Michigan Man Discovers His Barn Doorstop is a Meteorite Worth $100,000


Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Jan 31, 2009
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From October 2018:

Michigan Man Discovers His Barn Doorstop is a Meteorite Worth $100,000


A rock that had been used as a barn doorstop on a Michigan farm for more than 30 years is actually a massive meteorite worth over $100,000.

The 22-lb. (10 kilograms) meteorite is believed to have touched down in the 1930s on a farm in Edmore, Michigan. Earlier this year, the man who purchased the farm in 1988 and obtained the meteorite as part of the property brought the space rock to Central Michigan University (CMU) for examination.

Mona Sirbescu, a geology professor at CMU, took a closer look at the rock. Although many people had asked her to examine rocks in the past, she knew this time was different, she said. As it turns out, this meteorite is the sixth largest recorded find in Michigan and potentially worth $100,000, according to a statement from CMU.

When the man purchased the farm in 1988, he was told that the rock holding open the barn door was in fact a meteorite that the previous owners witnessed fall from the night sky in the 1930s. The rock created a hole in the ground when it fell to Earth, and when the farmer and his son went out to recover the object in the morning, it was still warm, according to the statement.

The rock remained a barn doorstop for the last 30 years, after the current owner purchased the farm. However, when people found small meteorites after a meteor that blazed through Michigan skies this past January, the farm's current owner wondered how much his doorstop was worth.



This is not that unusual.

Harvey Nininger, a meteoritics pioneer, also found meteorites being used as doorstops when he went on farm hopping tours looking for meteorites used as doorstops and in rock fences. In modern times, the typically very inexpensive Northwest Africa (NWA) meteorites were initially located beginning not that long ago because they were used by desert nomads to make rock piles to mark way-points because the darker "rocks" stood out on the pale surface. Now, they are specifically hunted.

Find a Falling Star
by Harvey H. Nininger


Harvey H. Nininger


Harvey Harlow Nininger (January 17, 1887 – March 1, 1986) was an American meteoriticist and educator, and although he was self-taught, he revived interest in scientific study of meteorites in the 1930s and assembled the largest personal collection of meteorites up to that time. [From what I've read about him including the book above and about his collection, I'd say "up to that time and for MANY years afterwards," MAYBE being beat by a few modern hunters/collectors finding and, also, buying meteorites using money made from the sale of some of their finds. - W]

He founded the American Meteorite Museum, which was first located near Meteor Crater, Arizona (1942–1953), then in Sedona, Arizona (1953–1960).

Part of the Nininger Collection was sold to the British Museum in 1958, and the remainder of the collection was sold to the Arizona State University Center for Meteorite Studies in 1960 which displays a selection of these meteorites in their public museum.

Dr. Fletcher Watson of Harvard University in his book Between The Planets (1941) writes that Nininger was accounting for half of all the meteorite discoveries in the world at that time. In his career, Nininger published some 162 scientific papers and four books relating to meteorites.

Over the years I delivered hundreds of lectures throughout the nation in colleges and universities, ...in elementary and secondary schools... I spoke on street corners, in country schools, in the Carnegie Music Hall... It was a source of some chagrin to be introduced, as I was frequently, as "the man who has found more meteorites than any other man in history."

Such a statement missed the main point of my life. Collecting occupied much of my time and effort, but collecting served as a sort of platform or footing on which to stand while I sought to educate, and while I pleaded constantly for an organized program of meteoritical research.[1]

Nininger's career as a self-taught and self-financed meteorite scientist and collector was unique. He lived to see meteoritics receive serious attention in the earth and space sciences, as he had urged for forty years. Nininger is considered by many today to be the father of modern meteoritics, having recovered a substantial portion of the meteorites available to scientists today as well as bringing to attention the fact that meteorites are present in great enough concentrations on Earth's surface to actually warrant looking for. Before Nininger actively pursued his meteorite hunting endeavors, many scientists regarded it as a folly to spend one's time doing so, believing meteorites to be so uncommon as to render searching for them a complete waste of time.[2]

In 1965, Nininger and his wife endowed the Nininger Meteorite Award, awarded annually by the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University.[1]